Over the past 20 years, we have seen drastic technological improvements in our ability to communicate. However, one could easily argue that new technologies have not enhanced but have actually hindered our ability to develop the essential communication skills needed to be productive and resilient citizens. With mental health taking center stage in our schools today, our ability to communicate with students and colleagues is at the utmost importance. Our aptitude for recognizing signs and symptoms of potential mental health disorders is in many cases reliant upon our ability to have those vital conversations with one another. So, the question is “How do we overcome multiple communication barriers within our schools and society to build those crucial relationships that can make us a better tomorrow?”
Recently, I found myself providing supervision during one of our middle/high school lunch shifts, and I couldn’t help but make the following observation. Among the numerous tables occupied by students, conversations were somewhat nonexistent. Instead, the cafeteria could best be described as a room full of energetic teenagers completely mesmerized by their electronic devices. The fact is that we see this type of behavior often within our society. We now live in a world which is seemingly driven by cell phones and social media. There is no doubt that, in many cases, students prefer to express their feelings on social media instead of speaking with classmates or trusted adults. Subsequently, this new trend is diminishing skills needed for effective communication, creating socially awkward situations, and often contributing to a lack of empathy for others.
To combat this alarming trend, we must implement a “back to the basics” approach in our homes and schools. In my opinion, we must find a happy medium between the utilization of new technologies while still creating much needed environments conducive to human interaction. The ultimate goal is to build atmospheres of trust which will allow us to have those down to earth, authentic discussions with one another. Afterall, if we want to assess situations more effectively and better understand the social and emotional well-being of others, we must ensure that genuine conversations exist. It is only then that we can develop those essential communication skills which are fundamental to the promotion of a productive and resilient society. For more information regarding this article, Youth Mental Health, or Safety Advisory Council initiatives, e-mail [email protected] or visit www.hamiltonfl.com/safety.
This blog was created to share topics that are generally discussed during our School Safety Advisory Council Meetings. Please let me know if you have suggestions for any other safety or mental health related topics. [email protected]
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